The 'Abbot Elementary' Season 2 Premiere Is an Inclusive, Emotionally Intelligent Must-Watch
This is a recap for Season 2 Episode 1 of ‘Abbott Elementary.’ There will be spoilers beyond this point. Please proceed with caution (because we don’t want to be the ones who spoil you!)
ICYMI, the award winning show “Abbott Elementary” is back for their highly anticipated sophomore season.
I fell in love with “Abbott Elementary ” during its first season, and I made a joke that every time it goes off air, whether it be for a break or it’s between seasons, my life goes to shit. That being said, I counted down the days until the second premiere. One of the perks of “Abbott Elementary” is that it manages to be over-the-top comedic while still maintaining an emotionally intelligent core that is full of heart, and they didn’t disappoint.
This new episode highlighted Barbara (Sheryl Lee Ralph) attempting to make her classroom ADA friendly for a student that uses a wheelchair, Jacob (Chris Perfetti) who learned American sign language (ASL) and uses it to communicate with one of his students, and Janine (Quinta Brunson) who is trying to keep it together after a breakup, when she is quite frankly falling apart.
What makes this episode (and show) so great is that while it’s a fictional world, it really does showcase the difficulty teachers have when it comes to supporting their students, and how sometimes no matter how hard they fight, at times they aren’t the ones in control of accommodations. Barbara used the grant the school received in the last season to build a ramp, but still lacked a desk that would accommodate her student who uses a wheelchair. She tried her best, but ultimately wasn’t successful until Greg (Tyler James William) went down into the school’s spare stock and found one.
Additionally, Jacob spends the entire episode talking about how he learned (a little) ASL over the summer, and how he would be teaching it to other teachers. The way they wrote his character and this mini-arc were brilliantly hysterical, because it’s clear they’re poking fun at people who treat ASL as a fun quirky thing to learn that makes them better than others, versus an actual language with its own dialects. While that was exceedingly clever, when the moment came to use it, he managed to actually make a difference for a young girl who needed that accommodation.
These two plot lines were subplots, which beefed up the main plot line of Janine not having her life together after the breakup financially or emotionally. While “strong Black woman” syndrome was never discussed explicitly, she portrays it perfectly. She isn’t asking for help while burying herself in work and pretending that everything is great when she’s actually deeply grieving her long-term relationship. She tries to push through her trauma and grief, only for everyone to rally around and remind her that the only way out is through.
Yes, I just spoiled a lot of the first episode of the second season, but I guarantee you it won’t ruin anything. Normalizing disability and mental health conversations in the media is so important, and I’m ecstatic to see such an amazingly brilliant show do just that.
Lead image courtesy of ABC’s YouTube channel.